UT educated Lane Kiffin, staff on rules

Defensive coaches Ed Orgeron, Monte Kiffin, Lance Thompson, and assistant Inky Johnson look at the replay after Auburn scored a touchdown on Saturday, October 3rd, 2009 at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Defensive coaches Ed Orgeron, Monte Kiffin, Lance Thompson, and assistant Inky Johnson look at the replay after Auburn scored a touchdown on Saturday, October 3rd, 2009 at Neyland Stadium.

When Tennessee hired Lane Kiffin to replace long-established football coach Phillip Fulmer in 2008, the UT compliance staff launched a campaign to "fully educate the staff on all aspects of NCAA rules," according to the school's response to February's Notice of Allegations.

Because a number of the coaches, including Kiffin and his father, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, gathered most of their experience at the professional level, a refresher course was in order.

From the day Kiffin was hired to the day he abruptly left for the same position at Southern Cal, UT compliance provided the football staff with "no fewer than 135 rules-education items." Those items included everything from in-person meetings to emails to monthly compliance newsletters.

As detailed in the university's 190-page response to its NCAA Notice of Allegations, which was filed May 20 and provided Friday to the News Sentinel, it was that kind of documentation that UT used to help largely shift the burden to Kiffin and his former staff for the two major violations levied against the Vols' football program.

Kiffin, along with the various recruiting violations that were lumped into one, all-encompassing major violation, faces a charge of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failing to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several of his assistant coaches.

All told, UT faces 12 major violations that were discovered during a 21-month investigation. UT, which has already self-imposed two years of probation and various recruiting restrictions in football and men's basketball, and the former coaches involved with the violations continue to await a ruling from the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

Though it let Kiffin off the hook for two infractions involving former assistant coach David Reaves, UT stood behind its compliance staff's efforts to control the one-year coach's behavior when it pertained to impermissible phone calls and bringing a recruiting intern with him on a trip to a Florida high school.

"To the extent that he could have prevented the violations from occurring but failed to do so, the University agrees that Kiffin failed to adequately monitor his own activities and the activities of members of his staff in those two instances," the response reads.

Kiffin and his staff made 16 impermissible phone calls to five different recruits between Jan. 3, 2010 and Jan. 9, 2010. Three of the players — Brandon Willis, Seantrel Henderson and Ahmad Dixon — ended up elsewhere, while the other two, whose names are redacted, are current Vols players.

Though it was an open contact period, Kiffin and his staff had been urged not to contact these particular players. Because of numerous redactions throughout the document, it is unclear why exactly the coaches could not reach out to the players.

According to the response, UT associate athletics director for compliance Brad Bertani, on Dec. 2, 2009, in response to a query from the football staff, relayed instructions to coordinator of football operations Kyle Strongin to inform the coaches not to contact the players.

"I vividly remember having those conversations with them leading up to (redacted)," Bertani said in a Nov. 16, 2010, interview with NCAA enforcement officials. "In fact, I thought it was a good sign that they were asking me all these questions.

"It was very clear that the only people that they could talk to was the parents. And that was if they were very careful about it."

Strongin, in an interview just days before UT received its Notice of Allegations, confirmed that he delivered the message.

In response to a Jan. 5, 2010, question from the staff about contacting the players' parents, Bertani relayed an interpretation one day later that OK'd that type of contact, but reiterated that it could not contact the players.

Kiffin made two impermissible calls to the players within the following 48 hours.

Because it was an open contact period, the university's call log software, Comply & Verify, did not flag the calls. Since June 2010, UT has employed a more advanced monitoring system from ACS Athletics.

The NCAA was originally prompted to investigate UT's football program after a violation involving Kiffin and then-recruiting intern Steve Rubio popped up on the SEC's radar.

On an Oct. 12, 2009, evaluation visit to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Rubio, who is now the Vols' Director of Player Personnel, accompanied Kiffin and entered the school. Rubio, a St. Thomas Aquinas alum who was not certified to recruit off campus at the time, did not enter any of the other high schools on the trip.

After his interview with NCAA enforcement officials on March 10, 2010, Rubio submitted a written statement indicating that UT senior associate athletic director David Blackburn told him and Kiffin that Rubio was not permitted to enter any of the schools. Blackburn confirmed the discussion during his interview with NCAA investigators, and said the conversation occurred via telephone on the eve of the trip.

Kiffin, in an interview with UT and the NCAA enforcement staff, said he considered it a "rare circumstance" for Rubio to "see his old buddies...his old coaches and teachers." Both Kiffin and Rubio said Rubio did not make contact with any recruits.

Throughout the investigation, UT implemented a number of punitive actions against the football program. Among the restrictions was a nearly 10-month ban (Dec. 18, 2009-Sept. 1, 2010) on recruiting players from St. Thomas Aquinas High. Also, non-coaching staff members are permanently restricted from recruiting-related travel.

Though UT agreed that Kiffin failed to monitor his coaching staff or promote an atmosphere of compliance in the two aforementioned violations, it cleared him on an unclear violation that centered on Reaves because Reaves "acted on his own and without notice to Kiffin." This particular violation associated with Reaves is heavily redacted.

The school also completely disputed an allegation that Reaves urged an unidentified, currently enrolled student to call and text recruits because the report is "lacking both in documentary evidence and supporting statements from the involved parties."

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 35

The_Ghost_of_Duke_DeLuca writes:

Kiffin, Orgeron, Daddy Monte, etc. shouldn't have needed an education on NCAA rules. Orgeron and Daddy Monte had both been head coaches at major universities. Lame had years in with Southern Cal and other schools.

Mike Hamilton was charged with hiring coaching of unimpeachable integrity. He failed. He did fire some coaches with unimpeachable integrity.

Perhaps Mr. Hamilton didn't know the difference.

miatatom writes:

Further evidence that Lame was a punk and unfit to coach at UT. He thought he was above the rules. I'm glad he and his crew are gone.

eVOLved writes:

Interesting! Can't wait to see a link to it tomorrow!

lafollette37766 writes:

Ole Kiffy boy can't even spell rule let alone follow one.

TinsleyLA77 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

SummittsCourt writes:

After all of this, the NCAA better lay it heavy on the weasel boy.

cloudodust writes:

Did Orgeron get cc'd on any of the refresher material..?

VolsINFan writes:

I can't wait until this whole nightmare that Hamilton started is over and done with. I still blame ALL of this mess on that guy. Hamilton sold his soul to the devil, and it is going to burn the program for a long time to come. And I want to throw up everytime I think about that fantastic severance package he geets to to take with him on his ride out of town. Good riddance and LET the door hit you in the rear on the way out!

VolGrad writes:

in response to SmokeyTheBlueTickHoundDog:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Read any good fiction lately? You sure seem to have a knack for writing it.

ThirdSaturdayInOctober writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amen

The_Ghost_of_Duke_DeLuca writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

: D

The_Ghost_of_Duke_DeLuca writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Best excuse I've heard. Even the NCAA would have to agree with that one. : )

VOLliven2it writes:

Ok, so we know the Twinky Soft Cakes former head coach messed us up. So we have known that for awhile. What are we suppose to do send negative Kudos to Southern Cal. Hey he was involved in part of what slapped them. So we can thank his attitude of non-compliance and former AD Hamman for all we are about to face in football penalties. We hope for the best but who knows how it will turn out. It is the NCAA for crying out loud.
PS Layla who?

madrigal writes:

Did you HAVE to bring up the name of that sorry punk? It seems KNS just can't resist it......

nepperso#220348 writes:

Can't fix stupid.

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

in response to TennVolFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What kind of penalties could they lay on ole Surfer Boy at this time? Little or none I would think. Punishing Kiffin now in restricting recruiting would be punishing USC. Even though USC had it's own NCAA problems, USC was innocent of the UT situation

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

CKK is Lane's long lost Brother coaching somewhere in Siberia?

givehim6 writes:

Yes Pearl lied but later on was a MAN and admitted his crimes, but weasel boy not only will not admit he did anything wrong but blames UT and the rules that were given him, hello jack*** all the time as an asst. at USC and Ed has been a HC in the SEC befor you knew wright from wrong bud.

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

in response to TennVolFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What is scary about this is that it now appears that OSU will get a little tap on the knuckles in this OSU scandal. NCAA is pretty much saying that only Tressel knew what was going on? ARE-YOU-KIDDING-ME? Also, even though there is enough proof the UT's compliance department instructed Surfer Boy and his staff of rules, the NCAA might come down harder on the UT program harder than OSU. Based on the evidence and what has been presented, You would not think so, but this is the NCA. The NCAA will give their fair haired OSU a pass, but everyone else, Georgia Tech, Carolina and gulp, even UT.look out. LOOK THE HELL OUT! my twitter account is @DutchOrangeVols

Prostar writes:

I think it's high time the NCAA start laying some of the penalties on the coaches who participate in these violations. Except for CBP, most of the coaches are able to move on to another university and keep on trucking. Pearl will be hit with a couple of years of sanction. If the school has demonstrated a sincere effort to educate and monitor their coaches and the programs and then the coach still breaks the rules, then penalize the man.

trivol writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

His son Knox Kiffy.

volboy81 writes:

Since when has anyone ever been able to tell Lane Kiffin anything? He already knows it all.

allvol32 writes:

in response to SmokeyTheBlueTickHoundDog:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"De"Train"rek Doofus" - Really? Are you still in kindergarten? Would you go away and let the adults have a conversation?

Fighton writes:

All the UT Administration did with this response, was document their inability to hold the football staff accountable. Kiffin should have been written up, if not fired...for insubordination if all of this is true. UT did nothing in response to his actions...NOTHING! Not even a write up in his file. UT should take the punishment...not Kiffin. UT didn’t provide an atmosphere of compliance or accountability.

brokendownoldvol writes:

He must have slept thru class.

Colliervol writes:

in response to SmokeyTheBlueTickHoundDog:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

KNS, this is a poor excuse for troll plant. Please try harder.

Colliervol writes:

On the subject of Lame, must we keep hearing about that twerp? Obviously a slow news time. It's the same MO you always use with Majors and Fulmer. When it's slow, pull one of them out of the dumper and write an article.

VolunteernGA writes:

Education assumes the individual wants to learn. Lane with his fine upbringing by Monty knew it all. Have met numerous people in my career with the same attitude and most end up as failures.

TROJANSLAKERSDODGERS writes:

Cry babies.... if you put more attention on playing good football and not about who did what back when, you wouldn't have this problem. You guys are likely the most mistake prone team in all of college football. You all have more excuses than a blind mechanic. It's always somebody's fault in Tennessee! good luck boys.

VolfanClinton writes:

At least Lane Kiffin had a winning season and knew what he was doing !!!

TNVol71 writes:

Just hope for once that the NCAA goes after the person who committed the infractions with the same ferocity as they do against the school that allowed it to occur.

DannyVol writes:

Not to be a jerk, but I'm going to be one anyway...Upon his hiring, I told everyone on this board that Lane Kiffin was going to be here just long enough to put us on probation and disgrace the program. I was told by many of you to "find another team."

Now I see a bunch of the SAME people on here, those who were so proud of their seat on the "Lane Train," acting like they knew he was going to be a disaster all along.

Remember this?: "After Fulmer, it's great to see some attitude from CLK!" I do.

Only a hypocrite would lack the sense to recognize Kiffin's poor character from the start, go along with him even when it became obvious he was a tool, and then ridicule him only after he left the program in a mess.

I never do "I told you so." But, in this case, because I encountered so much arrogance and blindness: I told you so. However, I don't expect anyone to think I am actually directing this at them, right?

kletusfleabiscuit writes:

in response to TROJANSLAKERSDODGERS:

Cry babies.... if you put more attention on playing good football and not about who did what back when, you wouldn't have this problem. You guys are likely the most mistake prone team in all of college football. You all have more excuses than a blind mechanic. It's always somebody's fault in Tennessee! good luck boys.

Ummm,,,back at ya trojan boy. By the way,,,what bowl game ya gonna be in this year??? Perhaps if your trojans had worried about playing football instead of being paid,,,maybe you would not be BANNED from post season play. Enjoy kiffen,,,,,you deserve him.

kletusfleabiscuit writes:

in response to DannyVol:

Not to be a jerk, but I'm going to be one anyway...Upon his hiring, I told everyone on this board that Lane Kiffin was going to be here just long enough to put us on probation and disgrace the program. I was told by many of you to "find another team."

Now I see a bunch of the SAME people on here, those who were so proud of their seat on the "Lane Train," acting like they knew he was going to be a disaster all along.

Remember this?: "After Fulmer, it's great to see some attitude from CLK!" I do.

Only a hypocrite would lack the sense to recognize Kiffin's poor character from the start, go along with him even when it became obvious he was a tool, and then ridicule him only after he left the program in a mess.

I never do "I told you so." But, in this case, because I encountered so much arrogance and blindness: I told you so. However, I don't expect anyone to think I am actually directing this at them, right?

Thanks for your non-input. Perhaps you forget that many of us were simply glad that Coach Fulmer was gone. Nothing against Fulmer,,,other than the fact that he just did not have what it takes to win in the SEC anymore. He had his run. Kiffin was a mistake. Pure and simple. Ain't gonna lie to you,,,fell for his bullsquat, like thousands of other fans did. But we learned (that's a part of being an adult), rather than the old "I told you so" that gets you nowhere. We made a mistake. We now have a coach that in my opinion will become legendary at UT for all the right reasons. Kiffin and Dooley have a bit in common - both Monte Kiffin and Vince Dooley were highly respected and considered the elite of the elite. With one big difference - Vince Dooley was an SEC man - Monte Kiffin was not. In my little opinion - CDD is an SEC man that will take our Vols to new heights.

VOODOOley-2011 (Inactive) writes:

Did they take attendance before class, and was Orgeron and Lane Kiffin there? (or Graves, or etc or etc)

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